DIY Leather Jacket Cleaning: How to Easily Clean Your Leather Jacket at Home

‘When life gives you leather, put on leather jackets.’

Be it retro or bikers, a good leather jacket is always safe when in doubt. It is a winter wardrobe staple loved by men and women of all ages. Another reason it is a top pick for many is its evergreen fashion status. Plus, you can style it for any event, including formal and black ties. The only drawback that keeps people from buying a leather jacket is its high maintenance.

Although leather jackets don’t get heavily soiled like t-shirts, when they do, cleaning a leather is a huge task. The cost of sending a leather jacket to the dry cleaner is exceptionally high. But that shouldn’t stop you from pulling your goth look. So here’s a guide to transforming your rough jacket into a new leather jacket.

 leather jacket cleaning

How to Remove Dirt From a Leather Jacket:

1.   Prepare a Solution

Add two ounces of warm water to a container and mix two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid. Keep whisking well until it creates a lather will remain dirty if not dissolved properly. A mild soap or dish soap can leave your leather jacket clean and smelling good, but you can also replace it with a leather cleaning product.

2.   Buff Gently

Dip a cotton cloth in the prepared solution and squeeze it well, leaving a damp cloth. Gently rub the slightly damp cloth on the jacket to remove dirt, dust, and debris. Also, turn the jacket inside out and clean it well. You can use a cotton swab to clean the insides of the pockets if there are any.

3.   Wipe Clean

Use a damp sponge to gently wipe the soapy solution off the leather jacket. Gently absorb the excess moisture by running the sponge in long strokes. Avoid forceful rubbing as it may lead to discoloration. Then repeat the above steps if the jacket is still a bit dirty.

4.   Dry and Condition

Lightly buff the jacket with a dry cloth to absorb the remaining moisture. Once completely dry, apply a glob of leather conditioner on the jacket using either a rag or a shoe polish brush. Let it dry under sunlight for an hour but avoid unnecessary heat exposure.

 leather jacket conditioner

How to Remove Stains From a Leather Jacket:

1.   Scrub the Stains

You can target nail polish and ink stains by using rubbing alcohol. Do not apply the rubbing alcohol directly on the leather; instead create a mixture with water in equal parts. You can also apply non gel toothpaste, nail polish remover, or baking soda for an inconspicuous spot.

2.   Buff the Stains

If the stains are in dots, use a cotton bud and the solution to rub it gently and remove the stains. However, you’ll have to use a damp rag or sponge to minimize time for larger portions. You can rub white vinegar to remove the stain for minor food stains within seconds.

3.   Wipe and Moisturize

When the stain lifts, wipe them with a dampened cloth to remove excess solution from discoloring the leather. Then condition the leather jacket using a clean cloth and a good quality leather conditioner.

4.   Dry the Jacket

Hang the leather jacket on a padded hanger and encase it in a fabric garment bag to prevent stains. The padded hanger will remove wrinkles from the jacket, preparing it for future use.


How to Remove Odor From a Leather Jacket:

1.   Leave in Some Cat Litter

It might sound weird, but cat litter does wonders in removing strong odors. Simply fill five to six tiny pouches with cat litter, throw them in the pockets, and hang them on the buttons for several hours. These anti-odor pouches will absorb the smell of smoke as well as traces of perfume. Baking soda is another great alternative for cat litter.

2.   Prepare Anti-odor Solution

Then prepare a half-and-half mixture of distilled white vinegar and water and fill in a spray bottle. Slightly spray the jacket with the solution without drenching it and leave it there for 2 to 3 minutes. Make sure to spray the solution on the inner lining as well.

3.   Buff Solution on the Jacket

Use a dry cloth to wipe the anti-odor solution off the leather jacket. Rub it in a smooth circular motion to prevent surface discoloration. It is necessary to be gentle to deliver a well-polished, finished leather look.

4.   Prep the Jacket

Leave the jacket in the open air to evaporate any remaining odor. Then apply leather conditioner or natural oils, preferably mink oil, to moisturize the leather. We recommend mink oil mainly because it adds water resistance to the leather and gives it a darkened matte look.

5.   Apply Mist and Dry

This step is optional, but applying a mist can leave your leather jacket smelling good for the next use. However, avoid using alcoholic mist as it damages the leather badly. We also recommend applying mist on the jacket's lining as it is mainly made of cotton cloth. Lately, leave it to dry under direct sunlight and hang it in the wardrobe away from dust.

Pro Tips on Leather Jacket Care and Maintenance:

Now that you know how to clean your leather jacket, look at the following tips to maintain your favorite leather jacket.

  1. Before cleaning a leather jacket, read its care label and manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Avoid using leather conditioners with olive or coconut oil as it harms the weather quality.
  3. Hang your leather jacket in a padded clothes hanger to maintain the shape of the shoulders and keep the jacket in mint condition.
  4. Use a microfiber cloth for drying the leather jacket as it absorbs excess moisture.
  5. Always use warm water to wash a leather jacket as cold water shrinks leather.
  6. Never wash a leather jacket in a washing machine, as it removes the natural oils from the leather.
  7. Only condition leather jacket once a year or after a wash to avoid making it too oily or dry.
  8. Use a leather protector to enhance the durability of the leather jacket.
  9. For minor stains, wash only the affected area to avoid moisture exposure to the inconspicuous area.


Summing up, a leather cleaning solution, a leather conditioner, and a soft cloth are all you need to clean your leather jacket properly. For removing dirt, stain, and odor, swap the cleaning solution with respective solutions, and you’ll have a sparkly clean leather jacket ready for use. The same techniques also work for suede outer garments; just don’t apply conditioner to the suede material. Lastly, if you’ve worn the jacket multiple times a year, wash it every six months.